Carbon-taxin’ Q and A

If you’re here for ‘Shut your goddamn carbon-taxin’ mouth’, it’s in the next post down. But I want to counter some of the most common arguments I’ve had against introducing the scheme, and the comments thread is now too woolly to do it. The problem with some of these arguments is that they’re a bit like Naomi Robson: they can actually look quite appealing at a glance, until a closer look shows they’re made of years of compressed resentment and orange foundation, both caked so thick they crumble away in moistened chunks. 

Two quick things. First: holy shit. The carbon piece has had over a hundred thousand hits at last count. No biggie for newspapers, but this is my personal blog that I keep for my own amusement. My Anzac Day faggots-and-towelheads piece got about fifteen thousand, which seemed a lot at the time. Then this happened.

So to everyone who passed it on, and to the hundreds of lovely messages through various social media, my very humbled thanks.  I just wanted to make some fucking sense, you know? Knowing how many have shared my frustration, and giving that an outlet, is a deeply satisfying thing.

And, Monday. There’ll be a follow-up essay which complements this week’s one. This won’t be the Difficult Second Album bit – I was actually writing them concurrently, so they’re a pair. Once that’s done, you’re very welcome to stick with me. Heathen Scripture is not all politics: I write about whatever is entertaining me on a given day. Over a long enough timeline, should be something for everyone.

That done, here are some common objections that I won’t have to keep answering one by one.

Gillard said there wouldn’t be a tax, so she’s a farken liar

Yeah, nah. Gillard said there wouldn’t be a tax under a Labor government. She doesn’t have a Labor government. She has a minority coalition government with four other members. You can quote “under a government I lead”, sure, but it’s safe to say she was referring to a Labor government that she led. Remember at the election how everyone went, “Wow, a hung parliament, this shit is like crazy man, this has never happened before in Australian electoral history?” That’s because it had never happened before in Australian electoral history. Safe to say that J-Pod didn’t see it coming. 

So you make promises about what a Labor government would do. Then you don’t find yourself in charge of a Labor government, but a coalition. The other members all want certain things done that differ to your program. You have to compromise, and agree to do things you wouldn’t have done. Like a potentially unpopular tax. Labor wouldn’t have done it because they’re populist policy cowards. Just as well they got the kick up the arse they needed.

They didn’t win the election on it, so they have no right to do it. Mandate!

To some people, a mandate just means taking a mate out for a movie and dinner. Or a gender-specific anatomical reference. I learned it in Year 10 in terms of the divine mandate to rule that ancient Chinese Emperors used to invoke. It was one of those great words that no-one used to know, like when I used to go and see the Cat Empire at the Prince of Wales, and now it’s suddenly all popular and everywhere and your friend’s annoying little sister has it on a t-shirt, and you’re like… man. Fuck. Really? 

Governments do not require a ‘mandate’ for every piece of legislation they pass. Their job is to be representatives. They respond to situations as they arise with the nation’s best interest at heart. Do we have the whole population phone in our votes on every parliamentary point of business?  Your MP has read the entire legislation, probably consulted in writing it, and had it explained extensively by parliamentary reps. Your plumber hasn’t. Who do you want making the call? 

Abbott and Gillard were presented with a hung parliament. The will of the people – the mandate – was expressed in the form of the elected representatives, in sufficient variation that no one party could form government. So they had to negotiate a compromise. Abbott is not very good at compromising, and is shifty enough that he would fuck his partners over the first chance that he got. So they went with Labor. There’s your government. Making decisions is what it does. And no, it doesn’t need to ask you first.

That’s not democracy, it’s just those wacky crazy Greens running the show

The Greens got 12 percent of the primary vote at the last election. The Nationals got three percent. The LNP, nine percent. But who’s the lunatic minority holding a major party hostage without a mandate?

We only emit like 1.5 or 2% of global pollution, dickhead. Won’t make a difference.

Ok. We also make up 0.31 percent of the earth’s population. See a disparity? We’re one of the highest emitters per head in the world.

 Also, 2 percent? Not actually that small a number. One in fifty. If you were in a room with a hundred people, and Alan Rickman came in with a bad German accent and said he would shoot two of you in an hour if his demands were not met, you would not be sitting entirely comfortably. And could you at least lend Bruce Willis your shoes? The poor dude’s full of more glass than the Daimaru spire.

See, most countries aren’t emitting more than a couple of percent in total. We’re in the top twenty in terms of percentage. So if all the ones around our level have the same attitude, there’s maybe 30 or 40 percent of emissions that will never drop. Is it only the top ten polluters who have to cut back?

It’s exactly the same argument as throwing shit out your car window. No, your Big Mac wrapper doesn’t make a big difference overall. But we don’t want everyone to do it, so we say no-one can do it. In this case, early starters have to set the example.

Companies will just pass on the cost, and it won’t do squat.

Companies will pass on the cost. That’s the point. Let’s say they’ve already figured out the cheapest way to make a thing for six dollars. They sell it to you for ten. Then a carbon tax means it costs them eight dollars. They sell it to you for twelve instead. Same profit. But once that’s in place, they can start looking at whether they can reduce that two dollar carbon charge, and in doing so expand the amount of profit they’re making. Or, decide instead to bring the cost down and undercut a competitor. Businesses are very good at finding every possible saving in their processes. This gives them an incentive to do it.

But, I’m heaps poor! My rent went up, and petrol is expensive, and…

I…you didn’t read the article, did you? I covered this. Quite extensively. Go back, do it again, pick a comfy-looking ditch.

You are a latte-sipping chardonnay-swilling ivory tower tree-hugging elitist university wanker who is dole-bludging and/or on a lavish luxury-goods plush-office retainer from the ABC for having written them one article.

Amazing how attending a university in this country immediately disqualifies you from having an opinion about ‘real’ people. (University students are made of seal fat and Styrofoam and animated via lightning strikes to the church steeple.) Yes, I went to a university. I did a shitload of specialised study, and I graduated with a scholarship average. I like to think it helps me to analyse information and draw conclusions from it. I don’t drink coffee or white wine. I’d love an ivory tower, but I’m a limp-wristed tree-hugger who couldn’t bring himself to shoot the elephants. 

I’ve never actually been part of any left-wing political movement. Never handed out cards for the Greens, picketed logging trails, got cornrows and talked about unity. I like things making sense. And taking whatever steps we can to  stop fucking up the place where we all live, that makes sense.


Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Hi, this is my casual thousand words on all the objections I have to…

More than 200 words is not a comment. It’s an article. Get your own blog.

Geoff Lemon, you are a piece of shit shitcunt, and you should have a shit, and then pick up the shit, and then smear it in your keyboard, and then eat the shit from the keyboard and die. From eating shit. From a keyboard.

You kiss your mother with that mouth? Because I kiss her with this one.


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204 Responses to Carbon-taxin’ Q and A

  1. Farmer Franno says:

    You’ve just cut through all the crap and made some sense of this debate! Niceeeeeeeee

  2. Andy Wallace says:

    Hey Geoff,
    Thanks so much for this and your previous article. It’s great to read something by someone so intelligent who has so much insight. I hope you are/plan to be a journalist and if you aren’t somebody has to get you your own newspaper. Like, yesterday already!

  3. Pamela S says:

    YOU ARE AWESOME (fair use of the Caps Lock, please don’t block me ACL style)! Anything I try to write will sound disgustingly inarticulate compared to your own brilliant style but I am one of the 100,000 who was directed to this piece of literary genius and I’m staying to hear more. You have given a much-needed voice to the people who are sick and tired of listening to rambling nonsense from the terrified masses and being crapped on for being a tree-hugger merely for accepting real action on the greatest threat to the human existence as we know it. Sanity prevails within Heathen Scripture. (Haven’t done a word count but I’m too lazy to write my own blog)

  4. Rei says:

    … Nuf said ^_^ Gold.

  5. Geoff Andrews says:

    Geoff, you’ve not only hit the spot: you’ve removed it.
    Re: Julia’s “lie”. In addition to your point that it’s not her government she leads, there is also the basic moral point that the sin of a lie is knowingly committed at the time of utterance. At worst, she could be accused of breaking a promise or even simply changing her mind;.after all, she is a woman (said he, cowering behind anonymity from the slings & arrows of outrageous outrage), I notice that Abbott doesn’t assert that “she won the election because of the lie” anymore. Presumably, he’s realized like most of us that the only people who changed their voting intention because of the undertaking, were Labor voters going to the Greens. I rate it as the dumbest promise in the most incompetent, boring election campaign in 50 years.

  6. Allan says:

    Have you read Monbiot’s article from the Guardian? Link here:

    Not advertising it, I just think the two articles synergise nicely. Read both and you start to see why the carbon tax has been so terribly mis-represented.

    You really have tapped a deep vein of feeling. I put your article on my facebook page more as an example of literate venting than political thought, but it was read by a lot more of my friends than I thought, and we’re not just talking locally.

    Keep it up, I think I’ll be back.

  7. dragonray says:

    You Sir, Have now become my god! You are writing as if in my head and you are so eloquent!

    I was also one of the 100k who read and shared your original post.

  8. Gav says:

    As a Pom over here for 3.5 years. I find it all rather funny.
    A)Why on earth do we give a shit that they’re taxing polluters? I’d rather them than us. They have to tax something.
    B) “re-election!!” call the waaaambulance. You voted. Lump it.
    C) companies won’t put prices up. Gillard has cocked that bit of PR up. if they could charge more already, they would. It’s called maximizing profit.
    D) contrary to stereotypical opinion, Aussies love a good whinge like no nation I’ve ever seen.
    E) I’d rather have a $200 carbon tax and Gillard over free beer and Abbott. A man who can’t believe the Aboriginies have been here for 10,000 years as that’s 5,500 years before the world was created.

    • Geoff Andrews says:

      95 years ago, C.J. Dennis, a Melbourne poet, characterized Australians with:

      “So they all grew idle and fond of ease”
      “And easy to swindle and hard to please”

      If you have any literary leanings, I can recommend his “Complete Sentimental Bloke” (four separate books compiled into one volume) and “The Glugs of Gosh” to you..

      • Gav says:

        Cheers Geoff. Also contrary to popular opinion I find Aussies to be welcowing, friendly and more thoughtful than the boorish “true blue Bruce”. Even to a “Pom”.
        This is why the outrage over a possible $9.90 per week (for polluting type people) is surprising. All looking out for #1 again.
        The world is watching, Australia. How do you want us to be perceived?

  9. Kat says:

    Spot on with the big mac wrapper analogy!

    Well done on hitting such a nerve.

  10. Ah Gav, you had me at Alan Rickman’s fake German accent. Someone give this man a job!

  11. Clusterfuck says:

    Ah, I laughed and laughed when I got to the end of this. Thanks for brightening an already bright day. Keep up the good work, and don’t let the various flavours of douche get you down.

  12. Zac Spitzer says:

    Most Australian’s who take out a home loan, opt for a initially fixed term home loan which then reverts to a variable rate after a few years. Given the limited economic knowledge of most voters in this country, myself included, surely they could understand this, if they wanted to.

    The simple retort for any of the Julia is a liar rants, is to ask them if they would support an ETS straight out of the box.. somehow I think they won’t be.

  13. diegotognola says:

    Just in terms of actually achieving some improvements by cutting emissions – where’s the evidence ?

    • geoff lemon says:

      Jesus, man. It’s like standing outside the Sydney Opera House and demanding the know where’s the evidence of architecture.

    • Carley says:

      There’s your French Vanilla.

    • Will says:

      Dumbass alert. Get a life dieinaditch or whatever your name is.

    • tric says:

      close the garage door with you car inside and running, then ask yourself…’should i turn the engine off, or sit here and asphyxiate?’
      take your time.

      • diegotognola says:

        Bad example, the car and garage is never as complex as climate. If it was, only a few % of suicides would succeed.

        Jesus, guys, why is this carbon discussion so polarised ? Funny enough I’m simply asking a question on ‘why exactly’ and all answers I get are ‘it’s so obvious dumbass’.

        There was a time when it was obvious that the earth is flat, too – just look at it !

        • Reversed Concave Spoon. says:

          It’s polarised in the context of either trying to reduce emissions in the hope it will lessen the potential impact, or just sittin’ back and doing nichts. Me, I’d rather go down swinging than contentedly wave a white flag. Some kids just don’t want to get off the ride though.

        • Minz says:

          My understanding is that increased carbon dioxide levels may lead to positive feedback mechanisms (such as ocean acidification) being established, which would greatly accelerate the greenhouse effect and lead to difficult-to-predict and likely dangerous consequences.

          In short, we know we’re screwing it up; taking measures to reduce the rate at which we screw it up can only be a good thing. Does that make sense?

          Anyway, we’re all having the wrong argument – simplify the debate to “are our actions damaging the environment?” and there really isn’t anything to discuss.

    • Elmer says:

      diegotognola, are you saying you’re in support of pollution as a matter of principle?

      I mean, given the choice of pollution/no pollution, you’d consider choosing the former just for shits and giggles?

      I like the weather pretty much as it is (given the variability we already have), and given this I feel it’s wiser not to mess with the atmosphere in the vague hope the climate won’t change as a result.

      Maybe you feel differently? Maybe you’d like to keep pissing in the pool, since you can’t taste it yet?

  14. David in Melbourne says:

    Great set of replies Mr Lemon.

    The Australian is on about CCS again. One hundred years ago they would have been saying “the horse will still be the most important part of transport forever. The naysayers who think the plan to fit them with roller skates is stupid are just small thinkers and blind to the worlds reality.” Do they realise that when you burn coal you end up with more CO2 than the fucking coal you burn. It has to be kept very, very cold and under pressure and then you need a really handy geological feature to pump it into. The cost puts the old carbon tax in the shade. If it worked then Gina and Twiggy and that fat fucker I forget the name of would have a pilot plant for Tony to tour. But then if Tony had his way they would not need to use it.
    I think I am getting a contradiction. Shit, can’t we just ignore these idiots?

  15. thew says:

    Thank you again!

  16. Crusader Rabid says:

    ‘Businesses are very good at finding every possible saving in their processes. This gives them an incentive to do it.’
    Yer darn-tootin. They could just move the whole factory somewhere they don’t have a Carbon Tax, like China where they can also benefit from good old Aussie coal.

    • geoff lemon says:

      Yes, because it’s really easy to just… move an entire industrial operation. And cheap! Cheaper than working out less emissions-intensive manufacturing.

      • Crusader Rabid says:

        Wow, you really have been to Uni. Cheaper labour, too.

        • David wants clean air says:

          You’re suggesting our power companies would run cheaper from China? Or you’re suggesting they mine our coal from China? Or you’re suggesting that there are still industries in Australia that are sacrificing much needed profits so they can support the local economy and this will drive them to China and better profits like all the other industries did decades ago? I take it CR, you haven’t been to school, let alone uni.

          • Scott says:

            We sell our coal CHEAP to china, which drives CHEAP electricity along with their CHEAP domestic labour which makes them a global exporter of manufactured goods.

            We tax our coal industry locally, evidently higher each year, which raises the price of electricty, which raises the price of labour which makes us nothing but the rest of the world’s quarry.

            Don’t need to be a graduate of ANY sort to figure out jobs are going in one direction… offshore! Oh, except for those fantasty type green bureaucratic positions, they will be plentiful and serve as no point to the human existance.

            The complexties of the grand scheme sound out warning sirens, even to those that do fully understand.

            In the abhorrent words of Geoff Lemon, Good FUCKING Luck Australia!

          • Chris says:

            Kinda hope you’re a troll Scott, given such steaming BS.
            e.g. (apart from seeming to misunderstand about electricity infrastructure replacement & expansion, as kd noted) that’s got it completely backwards; demand for our resources -> high AUD -> trouble for local producers. And in fact setting the forthcoming MRRTax/royalties where ROIs permit could offer some relief to company tax generally (tho whether that’d be significant and how it compares with other potential investments for the future, via super, is pertinent).
            Likewise, open your eye(s) and notice jobs(/FIFO employees) are going west & north and increasing to the extent of requiring immigration (and driving inflation).
            Nevermind either that the govt’s package has consideration for trade-affected carbon-intensive industries.

        • kd says:

          Aah scott, more delusional drivel, thanks.

          Electricity prices are rising because of the failure of successive governments to invest in infrastructure, nothing to do with taxes. But feel free to believe your uninformed, politically one eyed drivel if it makes you feel better.

    • Reversed Concave Spoon says:

      They took er jerrrrrrrrrbs.

  17. mellie says:

    Once again slamming down on the real issues. I would like to see a newspaper publish this stuff, profanities and all. Whatever helps the people to UNDERSTAND.

  18. Tim says:

    I wonder how people are aware that it’s not even a carbon-tax that the govt is proposing!?

    “Gillard’s package is widely described as a carbon tax but, strictly speaking, it’s an emissions trading scheme in which the price of emission permits is fixed for the first three years and permits made freely available, after which the price is set by auction, with an ever-declining quantity of permits made available each year.” (SMH, 16/07/11)

    She promised to put a price on carbon, and this policy does that. Prior to the election people thought a Carbon Tax meant a Carbon-GST – Abbott even endorsed the approach! Talk about moving the goalposts!

    And let’s not forget how Abbott promised to ‘stop the reckless spending’ and literally a week after the election tried to bribe Andrew Wilkie to the sum of $1 billion for the Royal Hobart Hospital (or $2000 for every man, woman and child in Tasmania). I bet 99% of the people chucking ‘democracy’ related hissy fits didn’t even blink.

  19. corymbia says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  20. Cheryl says:

    Well done you and hurrah that so many people are out there on the “yes” side of the argument. Funny how all the bad langaiage and abuse comes from the no side – I wonder what that’s telling us?

  21. Testart says:

    Now I have a machine gun… Ho ho ho… 😉

    (more quality writing bruv)…

  22. Jimbo says:

    IOU: One hug.

  23. nairbe says:

    never heard of you before but you have a new follower. Enjoyed the way you trashed the whole carry on and it has made me realise the whole thing is a load of crap and who cares. It’s like naughty children if i don’t give their bad behaviour attention then they will stop it.

  24. Skyring says:

    Interesting attitude. And way out of touch with the facts. This parliament isn’t even close to being the first hung. That was over a century ago and saw Chris Watson as the first Labour Prime Minister. There have been others since.

    Quibble all you like, but Julia’s flat statement that there would be no carbon tax, and now she’s pushing hard for one, is all the evidence people need to see her as a liar. What she says cannot be trusted. When she attempts to explain, she just loses more credibility.

    Sure, she doesn’t need a mandate to introduce legislation. So why is she wearing out shoe leather trying to sell it?

    Abbott is not very good at compromising, and is shifty enough that he would fuck his partners over the first chance that he got. So they went with Labor. No. Katter and Crook didn’t. Bandt wouldn’t side with the Coalition in a pink fit, and the other three (especially Wilkie) saw their unique chance to exercise power. They regarded Abbott as most likely to call a fresh election, win it, and relegate them once more to nonentityhood.

    • geoff lemon says:

      Yes. Viz “fuck his partners over the first chance that he got.”

      • Skyring says:

        You don’t think Gillard would ditch the independents in a heartbeat if she thought she could win an election with a healthy majority? She’d treat them exactly the same way Rudd treated them.

        • Geoff Andrews says:

          Skyring, it’s a pretty simple proposition: if ANY party wins a majority in the lower house, of course it would govern without the vote of any other party or independents – except the Liberals: they ALWAYS need the assistance of that benign lump on their arse, the Nationals,who never put any pressure on the Liberals to implement any policy that is inconsistent with core Liberals principles (if that is not an oxymoron). Joint party meetings are just one big love in, apparently.
          Now the senate is the same kettle of fish. Poor old Julia doesn’t have the numbers there either to do as she pleases like Howard could do recently. This means compromise, the same as a whole string of Liberal PMs had to do in the 1960’s (and then some) when they needed the votes of the DLP in order to govern. DLP=Democratic Labor Party for anyone under 50. But as a student of political history, you would know that.
          But why is Tony “You Shouldn’t Believe Everything I Say” Abbott frothing at the mouth and scuttling all over the country like a loose crab in the bottom of a dinghy promulgating the lie that Gillard “lied”? I’ll tell you.
          He feels that people like you (who, I suspect, were tricked into voting Labor because it’s “no carbon tax” promise was better than his), need comforting and sympathy and vengeance, lots of vengeance. He wants to stand shoulder to shoulder with you and the millions of other Labor voters who are the only ones who have any right to protest at her “broken promise”.

          • Skyring says:

            The Libs have occasionally had the numbers to govern in their own right. After Whitlam and Keating, for example, when the Libs had 68/121 in 75, 67/124 in 77, and 75/148 in 96.

            IIRC, the coalition kept on working happily, DPM slot assigned to the Nats. After 2001, Katter and Windsor were Independents, and Howard got along fine with them. Rudd treated them like shit, as did Gillard, if you look at the responses in Question Time.

            Abbott is playing up the “no carbon tax” promise because it is a potent weapon in attacking Gillard’s credibility. Just as Howard’s “never ever” GST promise in 1996 was seized upon by a generation of Labor leaders. And, of course, Abbott can point to the fact that Howard put his GST to the people, a fact which all but the youngest voters know very well.

            If the situation was reversed, Gillard would be “frothing at the mouth and scuttling all over the country like a loose crab in the bottom of a dinghy”. Oh. She is. How’d she go in Latrobe? Any smiles from the union leaders there?

  25. Skyring says:

    Businesses are very good at finding every possible saving in their processes. This gives them an incentive to do it.

    So why wait for a carbon tax? Why not just make the same savings now and really clean up? Because they haven’t got any alternative to burning coal and oil, that’s why. You can’t make steel with electricity, and you can’t run battery-powered semitrailers up and down the Hume.

    Emitting carbon dioxide isn’t littering. It’s something everyone does every day, just by breathing. Or texting, riding the bus or buying a tub of yogurt. It’s part of living in a society powered by electricity and fossil fuel. We’d emit less CO2 if we had nuclear power like the UK, USA, France, Germany, Japan and the other industrialised democracies, but we burn lots of coal, so we make lots of CO2. Playing with figures and hiding facts doesn’t eliminate the coal.

    The only way to make a serious dent in our CO2 is to eliminate the coal. And with it would go most of our mining and manufacturing. Bob Brown might like to cover Australia with solar panels and wind towers, but that’s not going to happen quickly, if at all.

    • Pamela S says:

      YAWN Read the articles again. Why do you even bother making a comment when you missed the whole point, twice?

      • Skyring says:

        Sorry. I’m not sure you understood the bit about burning coal. Coal is pretty much pure carbon, you see.

        • David wants clean air says:

          Abbot lied. I can’t believe a word you say.
          Howard lied. I can’t believe a word you say.
          Howard invented the non core promise. I can’t believe a word you say.
          Lord Monckton – LOL. I can’t believe a word you say.
          Your arguments are all based on lies.

          • Skyring says:

            My colonial oath! There’s some real sharp minds on this page. Just chant a comforting slogan and get your mates to join in and it doesn’t matter if your football team is going down the tubes, scoring own goals while the opposing side leans back laughing.

            I’m no great fan of Tony Abbott. I don’t think he’s got a plan to save the world. But he’s destroyed one Prime Minister and he’s got another down to the final few gasps of air, and all he’s done is point out their mistakes.

            Look at those poll numbers. Julia is living in a political sewage dump, and her plan is to bring in one tax after another until her support rises again. Meanwhile, Kevin Rudd is galloping around the Third World spending the money she brings in buying votes for his quest to sit with the big boys on the Security Council.

            You hear that rat-a-tat sound coming from Griffith? It’s the press gallery writing their diaries on the Last Days of Gillard. After the Rudd thing, none of them want to be caught short twice.

        • Pamela S says:

          Yeah I got that – we burn lots of coal, so we emit a lot of carbon. We already know that. It was raised in the article, both times, that we have an overly high percentage of emissions per head. You say that’s not “littering” using the big mac wrapper analogy, it’s just the way of the world. Other people, like Geoff, like me, and like others say it is. Yes we currently rely heavily on coal because alternatives are limited and expensive. That is the whole point! The tax will invest in cleaner technologies, designed to make them more affordable and a realistic alternative source for business. Do you think that the idea is that we stop burning coal on the day the legislation is passed? Neither do I.

          • Skyring says:

            We produce carbon dioxide by merely breathing. Defining breathing as littering is misleading, to put the brightest face on it. But beyond that, the mere fact of living in a developed society requires the expenditure of vast amounts of energy, through transport and communication systems, growing and distributing food, providing essential services such as health, education, and so on. Without energy, our society stops working, because the food doesn’t reach the people and the water stops flowing. It’s not littering, it’s surviving.

            Sure, we produce more CO2 per head than most comparable nations. That’s because we didn’t build nuclear power stations, instead choosing to mine our abundant coal and burn it.

            The tax will invest in cleaner technologies, designed to make them more affordable and a realistic alternative source for business. Sounds like pie in the sky to me. Sounds like a recipe for creative accounting, moving industry offshore, and mounting challenges on constitutional grounds. Not to mention giving big industry a bloody big reason to fund the Liberals next election if for any reason they look like losing what appears like a slam dunk right now.

            If Julia Gillard had any sense at all, she would be talking with the Liberals rather than the Greens. Work out a scheme with bipartisan support. Something that wouldn’t be the focus of an election campaign. Something that didn’t depend on wishes and hopes and pie in the sky. Kevin Rudd almost had something like that, except he dropped the ball in spectacular style.

          • Pamela S says:

            By that logic then, because it seems kind of idealistic we shouldn’t do it? So what if it seems pie in the sky? You don’t know that it won’t work just because it seems like corporate greed wouldn’t allow it. It saddens me that people are so willing to accept the norm and not take a risk that things will improve. Only attitudes of the greedy will prevent progress about climate change. I agree with you about CO2 emissions from breathing but I honestly don’t think that comes close to other human impacts on the environment. Besides, I have no intention to bear children and contribute to overpopulation so I’ve done my bit in that respect.

          • Pamela S says:

            And exactly what kind of solution do you think Gillard would reach with “there is no climate change” Abbott? Trying to reach an agreement with him would be the most futile exercise in the history of politics.

          • Skyring says:

            By that logic then, because it seems kind of idealistic we shouldn’t do it? So what if it seems pie in the sky?
            It’s not a matter of idealism, it’s a matter of science. And economics. I gave two examples earlier. Just how do we replace our coal-fired steelworks and diesel-fuelled trucking network? Any alternatives are not practical, not economic, or both. Sure, you can buy an electric car that tootles around town. Not cheap, it can’t carry much, and it runs out of puff just going across town. But you can’t buy an electric truck that will carry a useful load from Melbourne to Sydney.

            Long-haul trucks in Australia are about as efficient as they can get. They already have the economic incentive to save fuel and they’ve gone as far as the technology will take them.

            Telling industries they have got to do more, when they have pushed the technology to the limit is an exercise in futility. If it can’t be done, it can’t be done.

          • rl says:

            “But you can’t buy an electric truck that will carry a useful load from Melbourne to Sydney.

            “Long-haul trucks in Australia are about as efficient as they can get. They already have the economic incentive to save fuel and they’ve gone as far as the technology will take them.”

            Ever heard of a thing called a train? A much more efficient way to transport goods

            Click to access SER08-Maersk.pdf

            grams of CO2 emitted per (

            Truck: 472
            Rail (diesel): 205
            Rail (electric): 176

          • Skyring says:

            Ever heard of a thing called a train? A much more efficient way to transport goods…

            I’m with Paul Keating on this. Apart from maritime cargo, rail is the most efficient way to move things. Including people. But how is this tax going to force Qantas and TNT to build railways? It won’t. That’s something that government will have to do, and there’s no room in Julia’s plan for trains.

            Instead of handing out money to people she thinks might vote for her, she should be building railways. And replacing fossil fuel power stations with nuclear. Get some solid infrastructure going. Do something about reducing CO2 emissions. But no, as ever, Julia chooses the political option – the appearance of progress, rather than the actuality. Expedience over efficiency.

          • Chris says:

            I’m not sure why, as a seeming economic rationalist (yet encouraging the govt to get back in the railway business while we’re still swallowing the Darwin extension business plan failure), you need this explanation Skyring, but anyway: Because even if TNT or QANTAS do not, their shareholders or other shareholders/Macquarie/fund-managers/QR will back seizing such opportunities, and negotiate a public-private-partnership.
            Mind you, their ‘leadership’ seem to love sitting on their hands waiting for taxpayers to help fix inefficient infrastructure like railheads and ports 8| (Charge ’em, no?)

          • Skyring says:

            I can’t see any reason for a trucking company or an airline company to build railways as alternatives to their core business. Shareholders less so than management, as managers get paid regardless of profits, but shareholders depend on those dividends rolling in. If it was a profit opportunity, they would have already done it.

            (And we might ask, why are railways closing down, rather than expanding?)

            Whatever the carbon tax works out to be, the individual savings are not enough for any company to bear the immense cost of national infrastructure.

            And, as I point out, the worst-case scenario is for one year, max. You’d have to be a real mug CEO to bet the farm on Julia Gillard winning an election. Or for Tony Abbott to implement a carbon tax he’s devoted his career to opposing.

          • geoff lemon says:

            Correction: that he’s devoted the last couple of months of his career to opposing. After devoting the other segments of his career to every other conceivable position on the issue, in revolving door fashion.

          • Chris says:

            Why? Because they need to recognise they’re in the business of providing efficient transport to customers, and (if feasible) competitors will if they don’t.
            They’ve not happened because rail is not as flexible, and so needs efficient truck interchanges to go anywhere, as well as increased cost differentials.
            Plans wouldn’t be discussed in public until advanced.
            True, the longterm is important if any railtrack is needed, and PPPs are not just “any company”.
            Meanwhile, a year is long time in politics, so fingers crossed!

          • Skyring says:

            +Geoff, quibble noted. Perhaps “staked his career on” would have been a better choice of words. Nevertheless, should Abbott lead a government, I think it’s a safe bet no carbon tax would be introduced under that government.

            +Chris. Apart from the fact that Gillard’s tax is yet another fatuous scheme intended to calm down the quibblers and stroke the Greens, the main drawback is that it’s more about tax than carbon. It’s good old socialism at work. A lot of these 500 companies are going to have no feasible way to reduce CO2 emissions, so they have no choice but to pay the tax.

            What they do supposedly have is a couple of years to establish tree farms and boondoggles that will generate carbon credits that can be dutifully bought to render emissions transparent and weightless. I guess that would mean yet more Indian call centre people on the phone wanting my participation in some nutty green scheme.

          • Chris says:

            trLOL Skyring!
            I’m thinking you’re hoping against hope you’ll be called (unlikely post-GFC & MIStakes), so you’ve got someone to whinge to and rant about.

    • Geoff Andrews says:

      Skyring, Re:your comment of 17July at 3.54 am.
      OK, OK I lied when I said the Liberals “ALWAYS” have to climb into bed with the Nationals to form a government, you sure caught me out there. How about “in over 80% of federal coalition governments and innumerable state governments in the last 66 years, the Liberals have not been able to govern without prostituting their principles with dingbats like Barnaby”. I’m assuming you haven’t lied when you supplied the election statistics (notice I didn’t assume you isn’t it great to be able to chuck “lied” into an argument?), I’m afraid I’ll have to discount your 1975 example of Liberal generosity – governing with a majority of one presented more problems than climbing into bed with the Nationals. Of course, the Queensland Nationals wiped the Liberals like a snotty nose in the early 1980’s after they were able to bribe enough of their ex-coalition partners to jump ship. Appointing a National as DPM is simply an example of the grasp the Nationals have on Liberal testicles.
      I’m obliged to your admission that “Abbott is playing up the “no carbon tax” promise”.So it wasn’t a lie after all anyone who asserts that it is, is a liar.
      .Your attempt to paint Howard as benevolent towards the independents and Rudd as some ogre is irrelevant to the discussion, but to say the Gillard has not been anything but “accommodating” (I think your delicate phrase was “treating them like shit”?) towards the independents and Greens who rejected Abbott, denies the facts (notice I resisted the urge to chuck in “lies” again?). And I agree with your implication that Gillard is right to target power stations like Latrobe Valley for closure for the good of the country even though it makes the unions unhappy..
      As for your 16th July comment, read the science, mate. My attitude is: we tackle climate change and the economy will look after itself. Yours seems to be: look after the economy because you can’t foresee anything happening before you die.
      But 3.54 am? That’s well past your bedtime, mate. Have a Pol Science I assignment to get in? .

      • Skyring says:

        Just follow the link and you’ll see what I do at night.

        You missed the point about Rudd, Gillard and the independents. When Rudd was PM and Gillard was frequently Acting PM in the previous parliament, they both treated the independents with contempt as powerless nonentities. Unlike Howard, who addressed the points they raised in Question Time. Hansard is available online these days – go check.

        As for tackling climate change, how come Julia Gillard is busy reassuring all the coalminers that their jobs are safe until they get all of that coal out of the ground and burn it? How on earth does that do anything but add to carbon emissions in a spectacular fashion? If she was fair dinkum, she’d be telling them, “Our aim is to close down your filthy polluting industry as quick as we can do it.”

        • Chris says:

          Because, aside from their nuclear technology investments, costs mean China & others have been building large numbers of coal-fired powerstations to lift their peoples out of poverty, and they’ll buy it elsewhere if not here. There’s sure to be plenty of other things we’ll be doing and time before ours are overtaken by other technologies and decommissioned.
          Let’s hope the antagonistic Question Time sparring dies sometime too. How’s the “new era” treat the Indeps, or do they just save Qs for their weekly chats with PM?

          • Skyring says:

            they’ll buy it elsewhere if not here.

            I honestly cannot think of a better cop-out. You can apply this one excuse for poor behaviour to everything from coalmining to live cattle exports.

            IF the aim is to reduce CO2 emissions, then we are not helping if we Australians dig up our coal, ship it to China and burn it there. China’s on a different planet maybe?

            The simple fact that this is not even remotely being contemplated, nor any effective domestic measures, such as moving to nuclear baseload power, tells us that this carbon tax is NOT about carbon.

            This is about saving Julia’s political skin in a manner which can be swallowed by both the Greens and her own party. Along with whatever demands the independents make in their hour of power.

            For the Greens, it’s a potent symbol that their voice is being heard and that they are worth voting for. For the ALP, it’s taking money off big business and giving it to pensioners.

            For Australia, it’s a cop-out.

          • kd says:

            Skyring said:

            “… this carbon tax is NOT about carbon.”

            I see far too much short term thinking in this discussion. Let me remind you, the aim is to provide the groundwork towards a long term restructuring of the economy. All this discussion along the lines of “it won’t make any difference” rests on the assumption that the policy of pricing carbon is a quick fix (which the Tiny Rabbit’s direct action policy is, an expensive, short term, ineffective politicial-only quick fix).

          • Skyring says:

            Let me remind you, the aim is to provide the groundwork towards a long term restructuring of the economy.

            No. Last year Julia Gillard copped entirely out of any meaningful input. Climate change was to be handled by a discussion group. Right. Box ticked.

            As soon as the awful truth of the election result sank in, Julia found the Greens twisting her arm on climate change, and her cop-out option was no longer the policy that had been good enough for the voters.

            This is not about any fundamental restructuring, not unless you are mug enough to believe that one party is telling the absolute truth about everything and all the others are lying bastards. This is about keeping Julia Gillard in power, and it’s aimed at doing the least possible damage to the economy and the ALP’s slim chances of re-election.

            The Greens may hope that it will turn into something that will take great big bites out of everything they hate, and everyone will ride solar-powered bicycles in a vegan fairyland, but this is unlikely. Next election the circumstances will be different, and the Greens won’t be having as much say.

          • kd says:

            This “Greens are evil and want to send us back to the stone age” idea is tiresome. It’s also false and hyperbolic. Rest assured that if Tiny Rabbit gets his way and there’s no carbon price in the long term, the problem will not go away, and the amount of investment uncertainty will cripple energy intensive business in Australia. Especially as big swathes of the rest of the global economy (e.g. China, California) roll out their carbon pricing mechanisms.

          • Skyring says:

            This “Greens are evil and want to send us back to the stone age” idea is tiresome. It’s also false and hyperbolic.
            That’s not what I said. In fact it’s quite the opposite of my views. I’ve spent some time with Bob Brown and he is an absolutely delightful man. I’ll admit to using hyperbole, but honestly, I think there should be a lot more bicycles in our transport and more vegetables in our diet. And more love in the world.

            You don’t do your argument any good by using stupid names to belittle those who have different views to your own. This says more about you than “Tiny Rabbit”. What’s the next step – using belittling names for members of other parties or communities, cultures and races? Think about how it makes you appear.

            This carbon tax isn’t going to do anything much about carbon emissions, and while the Greens will be relentlessly pushing for higher imposts on things they dislike, that’s not going to change people’s behaviour. Most of the cost of the petrol we pump into our tanks is tax, one way or another, but people still drive cars. And trucks and buses and planes.

          • Skyring says:

            …big swathes of the rest of the global economy (e.g. China, California) roll out their carbon pricing mechanisms.You may wish to examine just what is involved in these “on the horizon” schemes. Look beyond the claims and the catchphrases and there’s very little substance. China plans to massively increase CO2 emissions with the help of Australian coal, and that’s from the open admissions of both governments.

            I was in California recently, and California could do much to reduce emissions just by improving public transport. They use a lot of nuclear and hydro power – and to be fair, a LOT of wind farms – so they aren’t in our position, where we produce vast amounts of coal, and either burn it or export it. That’s not California’s situation. They also have about twice our population in a far smaller area, so there is high potential for economies of scale to reduce their per-capita output.

            Neither China nor California would touch Gillard’s scheme. It’s a political response to a political problem, and when Abbott gets in, the circumstances will change.

            However, this is a discussion that we should be having, to raise awareness and debate the best way forward for our nation and our world. Just don’t kid me that Julia Gillard has found the magic solution here. She hasn’t for anything else.

          • kd says:

            Well given a choice between the policies on offer (direct action = do nothing political paralysis) versus the political fix that’s better than nothing, with the possibility of future improvement I have to go with the latter. There’s really no third way available right now.

            Your assumption that other countries developing carbon markets are immune to political forces is touchingly naive by the way. In California’s case it’s about being less profligate, and in china’s case about keeping emissions intensity low. This carbon market stuff is a long game (rest of my life, my children’s lifetimes and possibly beyond), and its not going to go away. Getting government participating in international efforts backed by decent regulation and governance would be good. I don’t see any other offers in sight to get this ball rolling after more than 30 years of inaction.

          • Skyring says:

            Your assumption that other countries developing carbon markets are immune to political forces is touchingly naive by the way.
            Thanks. That was a nice laugh. Set me up nicely for the night.

            You’re welcome to your views, and it would be a sad old world if we all had the same views on everything.

            However, I kind of suspect that if the situation were different and this was Prime Minister Abbott proposing the exact same scheme as an act of political desperation, you’d be picking all sorts of holes in it. And rightly so.

            There are those who sound like a rah rah squad for their preferred footy team and there are those who at least try to sound balanced. Makes it hard to take people seriously if they are just pushing the good old party line, you know what I’m sayin’?

          • kd says:

            Skyring: Well naive, uncomprimising, and not recognising the urgency of the problem is how you are coming across to me.

          • Skyring says:

            Do tell? Climate change is a problem, but it’s a global problem We have to act together, otherwise it’s like trying to stem a flood by building up our section of sandbags while huge gaps are left by others. And at the same time we’re pumping in more water by mining coal. Common sense and teamwork is what’s needed, not bandaids.

          • Chris says:

            I reckon kd is just counter-trolling you, to see how many more positions you’ll contort into just to cast simple aspertions/shit at the PM for working in the real world with a political solution/compromise, while ducking the lil’ magic problem that you’ve got nothing better. The govt’s response at least provides a real capacity to hit our “5%” pledge, with the flexibility to goes further. But, even though we started the polluting, let’s not adapt until it’s more expensive and painful, and we’ve let China’s economic planning & nationalism leave us in the red dust.
            BTW, there’s more than just one global problem, and (as Geoff spells out so well) one is the astoundingly blind arrogance/ignorance and sense of entitlement of post-colonial Western ‘society’.
            teamwork is what’s needed, not bandaids. Indeed – please explain to Tinny Rabid & the mad bunnee legions when you see him. (And no, I’m not belittling him – he did that; I’m simply acknowledging how he’s debased & whored his talents & religion as though this is just a game. Apparently that’s your philosophy too, otherwise you’d be trolling them – some virtual romping which could actually be functional in the real world by evaporating in consciousness the figleaf arguments covering greed/fear.) But that’s a silly suggestion of course. This’s all just a bad dream.

          • Skyring says:

            There comes a time in every conversation when words run slow and the talkers turn to the weather as a topic. In political dialogue, the equivalent moment is when substance runs out and personal attacks become the theme. So, thank you for your thoughts and comments, and thanks to Geoff Lemon for providing the platform.

          • kd says:


            “counter-troll”. Nice, I haven’t come across that term before. Really it’s just that there’s so much wrong with the climate mitigation debate that I just feel the strong urge to shout “DELUSIONAL FUCKWIT” at anyone busy lashing themselves to the wrong side of the tracks

          • kd says:


            Thanks for moving my god damned half arsed two bit motherfucking PROFANITY LADEN CAPS LOCK AD HOMINEM ATTACK POST from moderation into the machine. I might be in melbourne in dEcember, in which case I want to buy you a beer if at all possible. LAST TIME I BOUGHT ANYONE A BEER IN MELBOURNE IT WAS for MY accordion repair man. I tried a lame attempt at what you’ve managed about writing about climet change issues with finesse but that has been LOST BY THE POWERS OF GOOGLE BUT IT WAS ALSO INSPIRED BY THE HELLS ANGELS GENIUS THAT WAS HUNTER S THOMPSON, but I’m a motherfucking scientist trapped in this maze of social science, not you with loose factual standards and tight deadlines. You have my emai 😉

    • Gui says:

      Australia has heaps of sun, more than almost anywhere else, and it won’t run out anytime soon. We also have plenty of empty space to harvest it from, while the necessary technologies keep on improving. Australia could replace its dependency on (finite) coal for energy with (infinite) sun. It would create heaps of new jobs in rural Australia, and would allow Australia to be a lot less bothered with things like carbon taxes, as it wouldn’t be producing much extra CO2.
      If we developed a train system for fret running parallel to the Hume (and other essential highways), with electrically powered trains (like it’s the case in more and more countries around the world) we could still transport all the goods we need from point A to point B, probably faster than we already do.

      On top of that, building all those new infrastructures would provide a great stimulus to the economy and a lot of employment.

      I don’t understand why such common sense plans are never brought up. Isn’t the prospect of great new projects to undertake together exhilarating??

      • Skyring says:

        Paul Keating was big on railway infrastructure. It’s a sight more efficient to have freight trains hauling stuff around, instead of running thousands of semitrailers across the country. But building railways is bloody expensive, and you aren’t going to get TNT or Lindsay Fox deciding it’s cheaper to build a line or two than pay the carbon tax. Or Qantas build a High Speed Train rather than bump up fares to pay the tax. Realistically, they have nowhere to go but write out big cheques to the ATO. Or find ways to evade it with lawyers and accountants.

        Solar power sounds good, and yes, it’s great for recharging your iPod or heating your bathwater, but the energy density and cost per square kilometre makes it uneconomical. If you want to cover vast amounts of desert with solar cells, you’re going to have the Greens on your back for turning a fragile ecosystem into a gloomy wasteland. And rightly so. Not to mention the expensive network of cables collecting all the DC which will attenuate to nothing before it gets anywhere near a city.

        • JohnD says:

          DC attenuating to nothing? The good thing about technology is that lossy low voltage DC (and AC) can be inverted into much more efficient ultra high voltage DC for transmission. Line losses below 8% over 2000km can be achieved, and once the transmission infrastructure is in place, solar thermal generation can be installed, which is much more efficient than solar photovoltaic generation and can deliver AC power because it heats steam to turn generators.
          An energy density of (roughly) 90MegaWatts per square kilometre is possible, so if we had a solar arrays totalling ten square kilometres, that’s at least 5,400 MegaWatt hours per day of usable sunlight. Allowing for transformation and transmission losses, that adds up to 20% of the National Electricity Market grid (approx. 23,744 MWh/day) which feeds QLD, NSW, VIC, TAS, and SA.
          I for one wouldn’t be that worried if we lost less than 0.7% of “fragile ecosystem” in the Simpson desert to generate that amount of power, and we’d prevent 20% of the 200 million tonnes of CO2 that the N.E.M produces annually.

          • Skyring says:

            Good-oh! So why hasn’t it happened? Or likely to.

          • JohnD says:

            It hasn’t happened because there’s more profit in mining and burning coal than investing in solar farms and distribution infrastructure.
            Maybe the carbon tax will go some way to those reliant on coal to invest in clean, carbon tax free energy sources?

          • Skyring says:

            Maybe the carbon tax will go some way to those reliant on coal to invest in clean, carbon tax free energy sources?

            Not with Julia Gillard assuring coalminers that their jobs are safe so long as there’s coal to mine, and paying out billions in rebates and compensation to the biggest emitters.

            Seriously now, just who is going to put a lot of time and effort and money into square kilometres of solar panels or windfarms when the tax is only going to last a year?

            We haven’t seen massive investments in non-fossil energy because nobody wants to spend that much money on a losing proposition. Taxing industries to force them into spending the money is a plan that can only work if swine fly. You can’t spend the same money twice over.

            If solar or wind energy ever becomes profitable, then energy companies will take to it automatically as a matter of simple economics. Until that point, the only way that it will happen is if government hands out hefty subsidies to make up the shortfall.

          • JohnD says:

            As the price on carbon will only be fixed until 2015, and is expected to rise approximately 2.5% per year thereafter, there will be a point where renewable energy becomes more economically feasible.
            Only going to last a year? Any government must make policy based on the assumption that either a) they will be re-elected, or b) the newly elected government will keep the policy decisions made by it’s predecessors.
            I’d much rather the polluters pay extra than the taxpaying public, which is what Tony Abbott is pushing.
            If Gillard’s policy is Robin Hood, then Abbott’s is more like Sheriff Of Nottingham.
            Charging companies to force them to spend money is already happening now, and it works.
            Major polluters into wastewater treatment systems are charged much more for untreated waste, and the financial incentive to pre-treat waste is enough for them to invest in that pretreatment.
            All it takes is for the charge/fee/tax to be more expensive than investing in the alternative.
            Of course Gillard would say their jobs are safe. But for how long? five years? Ten? I bet she didn’t say for how long.

          • Skyring says:

            As the price on carbon will only be fixed until 2015, and is expected to rise approximately 2.5% per year thereafter, there will be a point where renewable energy becomes more economically feasible.

            LOL! That’s not economics. That’s tax.

            Only going to last a year? Any government must make policy based on the assumption that either a) they will be re-elected, or b) the newly elected government will keep the policy decisions made by it’s predecessors.

            If that’s what this government must do, then they must have their collective head up their collective bum. Quite frankly, I think it’s even money that Tony Abbott will be Prime Minister before this tax comes into effect.

          • Skyring says:

            Charging companies to force them to spend money is already happening now, and it works. Major polluters into wastewater treatment systems are charged much more for untreated waste, and the financial incentive to pre-treat waste is enough for them to invest in that pretreatment.

            That’s a fee for service. If you can do something cheaper than the government charge, then there’s an incentive to do it yourself.

            But a tax is effectively wasted money. You’re not getting a direct return on the payment.

            If you are making steel – a major Australian industry, I might point out – just how do you avoid burning fossil fuel in huge amounts? There’s no option. You pay the tax, bump up your prices, and shrug your shoulders. You don’t stop shoveling coal into the blast furnace.

            This carbon tax isn’t aimed at reducing CO2 emissions. It’s aimed at keeping Julia Gillard in power. It’s not an example any other nation is going to follow.

          • Chris says:

            Whether or not a low-carbon steel technology company comes along, the tax paid will lead to the lessening of projected emissions (in part by direct action/investments, and by differential costs that may change use of materials).
            Given the risks of not doing so, and the “Mad Monk” is adamant to put political opportunism ahead of world ecological and business planning, the world may well hope it will keep Gillard in power.

          • Skyring says:

            Whether or not a low-carbon steel technology company comes along, the tax paid will lead to the lessening of projected emissions (in part by direct action/investments, and by differential costs that may change use of materials).

            Sorry, but that sounds like hopeful gobeldyguk. Slogan-chanting. Believing the rhetoric.

            Could you give a real-world example, please? Honestly, I cannot see how this scheme is going to reduce CO2 emissions if the plan is to keep on digging coal out of the ground and burning it. Coal-mining is expected to increase. That might produce more taxes, but it will also produce more CO2.

        • Elmer says:

          Generally sound. I might quibble on details, but won’t. If the goal was to generate along a (n electrified) railway line no need to worry about transmission losses. But as you correctly point out, the current PV technology would generate only small percentages of the power needed, and today that investment is questionable at best.

          Note someone has done this in Belgium, along a tunnel, and it’s a bit of a gimmick. The most tangible benefit is it keeps the PV industry going, pushing on with more R&D hopefully leading to the desired outcome.

    • Elmer says:

      Skyring, … because right now carbon has no value. Der!

      The way is most definitely not to unilaterally decide to eliminate things such as coal as you suggest, it is to create environments which allow R&D and investment which results in the market rewarding the winners.

      • Skyring says:

        The way is most definitely not to unilaterally decide to eliminate things such as coal as you suggest, it is to create environments which allow R&D and investment which results in the market rewarding the winners.
        Call me simple-minded, but if the aim is to reduce CO2 emissions, then the single best thing we can do is reduce burning fossil fuels. And I don’t mean fiddle around the edges with low-watt lightbulbs.

        Hands down, the quickest and cheapest and most effective solution is to replace as many coal-fired power stations with nuclear plants.

        Sure, encourage R&D. Nuclear fusion would solve a lot of problems if we could get it going. But that’s what the government should be doing anyway. Wasn’t it Bob Hawke who talked about “the clever country”?

        To my mind, Gillard’s scheme feels like onion-sauce. It might produce a fragrant aroma, but it’s not going to do anything but stir money around, keep another few thousand public servants in Canberra paperbusy, and keep the coal-mining unions cheerfully digging away.

  26. Anfalicious says:

    I DEMAND TO BE MODERATED!!!!111!!!!ONE!!!!TEH!!!!ELEVEN@11111!!!!!!

  27. Gabe says:

    I still don’t understand why the Right always refers to the “Chardonnay and Latte Left”, only suburban Fresh Food Mums drink that shit.

  28. Crusader Rabid says:

    I wouldn’t call Julia a liar. All she said was: ‘there will be no Carbon tax under the government I lead”. Still plenty of time for that prediction to come true. She might pull the plug on the C-tax when she realises it’s an unsellable dog … or the ALP might pull the plug on Julia for the same reason.

  29. jekandsuch says:

    Its been truly amazing the number of climate change deniers who have popped up in my Facebook newsfeed this week.

    There have been some stunning comments, but my three favourites have been:
    -Global warming is good for the earth, it’ll melt the permafrost, and people in Greenland can eat again!
    -Who cares about global warming anyway?
    -I own my own house and have no luxuries!

  30. Lucy Jr says:

    Good to cry laughing instead of usual bitter tears.
    Hope this goes up on the Drum.
    Yours are the best As for these Qs I’ve seen.

  31. Really liked the article – another thing i feel you should mention is that for people who don’t believe the climate change science this tax is pointless. You should point out to them however that we use fossil fuels which are finite. At some point we will run out and we need an alternative. As Bill O’reilly would say, can’t argue with that.

    • Carley says:

      But they don’t care because they believe that will happen after they’re dead. And who gives a shit about the world after that? They’ll be in heaven with their homeboy Jesus.

  32. Mike says:

    Love your work, Geoff. Witty, very readable, and very much to the point.

  33. Peter says:

    >Businesses are very good at finding every possible saving in their processes.
    You certainly have a higher opinion of the competence and vision present in large corporates than I do. In my experience such businesses are very good at complacently maintaining the status quo; in avoiding hard problems to meet short term goals; In taking the easy way out. To me a carbon tax that they can pass on to consumers is providing them with an easy way out.

    This is the issue I personally had with the ‘suck it up princess’ attitude expressed in your first post. I would have no problem in paying what is admittedly a meagre price rise, had I much faith that it would actually make any difference – Indeed, just sucking it up and paying is exactly what will enable the status quo to be maintained.

    For example, $3.50 is surely not much extra to pay for a flight, but I fail to see how this is going to lead to lower emissions.

    Having said all that, I guess there is only one way to find out who’s right, so lets give it a shot. I just hope that we don’t confuse doing something with doing something effective.

    • Crusader Rabid says:

      Let’s not confuse ‘giving it a shot’ with ‘doing effectively nothing’ – which is all the C-Tax is – a symbolic gesture designed to let Climate Changers feel good … for no good reason.

      • David wants clean air says:

        You may have missed the bit about investing in renewable energy technology- an investment that might just stop us falling further behind the rest of the world. Or perhaps you believe the scientist who receive that money are going to use it to run around shopping centres and cry for another election because their democracy got broken.

      • Elmer says:

        No Crusader Rabid, valuing waste makes it part of the economy, makes it something business can compete to eliminate from its various processes in order to gain an economic advantage. Its a sound economic principle.

    • jordo... says:

      ‘For example, $3.50 is surely not much extra to pay for a flight, but I fail to see how this is going to lead to lower emissions.’

      That $3.50 will be paid by hundreds of thousands of people who jump on a domestic flight in the future, which will then be filtered back to the government and be invested in renewable energies. That investment will create jobs, technology will be exported to the rest of the world and lower global carbon emissions. SImple duh? Read the article again to understand the points…..

      • rl says:

        Also, consider the airline. Qantas has estimated their total carbon tax bill at $115M. Once they pass that onto consumers, any changes they make to reduce that bill means they can pocket the difference.

        How can they reduce the bill?

        More fuel efficient planes – According to Wikipedia, the new 787 dreamliner is 20% more fuel efficient than a 767, so when they come online, there’s some big savings.

        biofuels – presumably these are not taxed.

        precision approach – using gps etc to control approach, the plane can glide in at the optimal angle saving unnecessary thrust.

  34. Skeet says:

    Another great pice, Geoff. Keep it up.


    “The LNP, nine percent.”

    ??? Typo? Or have I missed something?

  35. Ricky says:

    Irony and history is something lost on politicians. If fact come to think of it most words ending in “Y” seem to go a miss once they become elected. Empathy, So John Winston gets hiss ass kicked out of his seat for redefining lies as “Core” or “non Core promises” and all of a sudden its all about “Juli AR”. I am getting so sick of this negativity and, no mandate caper Phoney Tony is trying to pull off as good politics. It seems that the only people who went to Uni that have any cred are all in the Fibril Party. Phony has a masters in Philosophy/Arts, he aint no philosopher or artist, He has a Law degree and a Economics degree but has never practiced law or worked as an economist (John Hewson laughed about his economics credentials). He tried to be a priest, guess what, failed again…So what does he do, he becomes a right wing hack Journalist dumping on unions then a Poly after a spell as a plant manager in a cement factory…Who’s the bludger?

  36. ash says:

    Solid stuff my man. Glad to see so many hits on your first carbon piece, has been a pleasure to pass it on.

  37. Brad says:

    Thank you, not just for your rant, but for opening up the dialogue to an audience that is outside the Murdocracy of selected letters to the editor that is the newspeak of the daily print press.

    By and large the comments to your Carbon Tax blogspot and this one have restored my faith in Oz people as being more than complainers who care only about the norm.
    It heartens me to see that there are so many of us who look to the future and respect the fact that we need to make changes to achieve goals beyond party politics.

    Thank you Geoff and thank you everyone who has stood up to the redneck reactionaries who think that a small price to pay today is too much compared to the incredible cost we will face in the future if we sit back and conduct life as we have in the past.

    I will gladly pay today insurance against the potential destruction of all that we hold dear, even if I end up being wrong.

  38. kd says:

    I would love to see someone work out how to use your rhetoric to help lift the so-called-debate in the community. Right now Abbot and his media lackeys are making me think that nazi slurs are appropriate. Their lies and hypocrisy beggar belief.

  39. This world will change… one word at a time. The revolution will be blogged.

    Well done Geoff. We need YOU to moderate these crazy times!

  40. Tex says:

    I’ve been out of the country for a few years now, and it’s quite odd to view this debate this from outside.

    When I left Australia four years ago, Howard was swept from power, because of an environmental policy that played second fiddle to the economy, and an industrial relations policy that favoured businesses. The public made their choice loud and clear.

    What has happened in those four years? What has changed that we are now getting upset about a policy that addresses the environment and taxes businesses?

    Maybe everyone is a bit restless. The country isn’t about to default on its debt; no tsunami or nuclear fallout; no Arab spring equivalent to speak of. Everything’s pretty rosy, really.

    Or maybe we’re all easily swayed by big scare campaigns, whether it’s from the Unions or the Mining Industry.

    You open the paper and see the latest American Tea Party crackpot calling Obama’s healthcare policy Communism, and you think ‘What a nutbar, do they honestly think that?’. Same thing, really. Just it’s in Australia. From outside, it’s a bit embarrassing to watch really.

  41. JohnD says:

    The good thing about going to uni (alas, I didn’t), is that you have the ability to sum up the thoughts of so many of us out here who lack that ability.
    ‘Shut your goddamn carbon-taxin’ mouth’ is the best article I’ve read in YEARS (apologies for the caps), and you’ve just increased your permanent readership by one. A lot more if I’m successful spreading the word on my facebook page.
    Am now voraciously devouring as many previous blog posts as I can.

    • geoff lemon says:

      Thank-you, JohnD. Very glad to hear you’re digging back through the history, there’s some stuff there that I’d love people to read.

      (and caps for a word or two are alright by me…)

      • JohnD says:

        As I suspected, there is a treasure trove of insight and humour with a healthy dose of sarcasm.
        The last thing I enjoyed reading as much for the style of writing as the content was any one of a half-dozen Douglas Adams novels.
        (I was briefly excited when I saw the words ‘DON’T PANIC’ written in large, friendly letters on the right of your page, only to see a disappointingly small entry which had nothing to do with Arthur Dent…)
        Keep the blogs coming, and in the meantime I’ll re-read the carbon tax one for the third time…… 🙂

  42. Ju-Liar is an anti-semitic epithet says:

    Geoff Lemon, you are a piece of shit shitcunt, and you should have a shit, and then pick up the shit, and then smear it in your keyboard, and then eat the shit from the keyboard and die. From eating shit. From a keyboard.

    … I laughed. I nearly shat. And smeared the near-shit on my keyboard. Well done to you, sir.

  43. G says:

    Ok, whatever whatever, can we NOW Guillotine Tony Abbott?

  44. AW says:

    Geoff, how do you respond to this? I am undecided on whether the tax itself is terrible, simply because I haven’t had a chance to actually do some research… I keep hearing people saying economists think this will be a good thing, but never any sources. Anyway, I’m leaning towards good, but have had someone respond to your article as follows:

    “Like almost every other carbon tax advocate, he seems to have completely missed what will be the biggest negative impacts: A drop in investment in Australian manufacturing, the increase in cost of locally produced products and the migration of Australian companies overseas where the restrictions don’t exist. No, he’s instead focused on the implications the tax will have on his take home income and concluded that its not as bad as the hystericals are making it out to be. This chap along with the rest of the economically retarded need to get a clue and fast. Whilst that’s happening, I’ll be over here fucking this doorknob.”

    • geoff lemon says:

      People talk about businesses moving offshore when any kind of economic reform comes up. I doubt the CT is going to make a bit of difference. It’s already vastly cheaper to use overseas labour forces, so manufacturing companies that want to make those savings and can organise the move have generally done so. It’s no small feat to shift an entire enterprise to another country, whether logistically or legally. And the scale of the businesses being targeted is such that they have immense operations, many of which have to be based in Australia (mining, power generation, etc). You can’t mine Australian uranium from China…

      In any case, I’m not so much writing about whether it’s a good tax as whether it’s going to devastate Australian households like the propagandists claim. By all means debate the tax, I’m just over them using such emotive and deliberately false means to do so.

      • AW says:

        In a way you may as well be against the sun rising though really… Conservatives, using scientific evidence instead of anecdotes and feelings? Admitting we aren’t islands unto ourselves, where our fate is what we make it, where we earned every single dollar we have through hard work, social mobility statistics be damned!

      • Kim Hawkins says:

        Thanks Geoff. On ya. 😉

    • Elmer says:

      SW, try reading up here; it’s a relatively good and succinct introduction to the principles, but not the details of the Australian tax being put forward.

  45. ETS (Not Climate Change) Skeptik says:

    Mr Lemon,

    Your potty mouth not only obscures your message, but completely misses the point.

    Most of us see the scheme for what it is – politically motivated snake oil. The issue is not that we will be paying extra tax, it is that this extra tax will do nothing to help the environment. As you say $10/week is a palty amount – which begs the question “What is the point if it won’t cause any change in behaviour?” I, for one, would be much more inclinde to support a Carbon ETS if it was presented with a statement like “Actually we want you to buy less carbon intensive things so they will cost more, and no you will not be compensated. Bad luck. We will be spending the proceeds from the sale of Carbon Credits to fund research into Alternative Energy systems.” Or some such …

    Ms Gillard is wandering the country talking about “facts” when all she has are suppositions based on the prognostications of economists whom recent experience demonstrates have less accuracy than weather forecasters. The paltry $10/per week is based on an initial carbon price that is entirely politically motivated and bears no relationship whatsoever to what the final price (and therefore cost to the consumer) will be. Nor does it bear any resemblance to the actual cost of such pollution to our environment and society. Corporations are, as you say, excellent at reducing costs to themselves. What they are not good at is altruistic behaviour that costs them profits, but improves society as a whole. Anyone who is able to see past their rightous indignation as so eloquently espoused by Mr Lemon might want to have a read of this article ( which demonstrates just how flawed the paragon EU-ETS actually is, and how in the 6 years since its inception it has done nothing but provide easy money for the corporations that it covers.

    Meanwhile, 3/4 of the worlds population will be flipping a middle finger at you while expanding their carbon footprint at an exponential rate as they try to catch up to us “latte sipping 4WD driving rich folk”. And while we are fiddling in a smug, self-satisfied delusion that we are doing something to make the future a better place there will still be food crises in Somalia, depletion of aquifers in Saudi Arabia, and dust storms depleting top soil everywhere else. The yearly reduction in carbon emissions “predicted” to result from the Australian ETS is overridden every three weeks by China.

    What is needed is not the typical Labour reflex of “TAX THE RICH” so the masses don’t have to become less comfortable. Environmental catastrophe is not a problem of wealth distribution. Someone with the balls to stand up and say “Actually, our massive and ongoing debt-fueled expansions of our world economies is actually the problem!” Or better yet – perhaps we should think about limiting our population to a sustainable level ….

    As the great David Attenborough said “Anyone who believes in indefinate growth on a physically finite planet is either mad, or an economist”. Which are you?

    • The Weather board Socialist says:

      I agree, more condoms,chemical castration, “Do Nothing”. Nothing I say, Lets get all those dole and Uni bludgers in the “Green Army”. You are so right (sorry rite) no environmental catastrophe was averted by the redistribution of wealth. Look at Exxon. Tax the rich?..No way, Soylet Green I say…Eat the Poor!!!!

      • ETS (Not Climate Change) Skeptik says:

        Pop culture references do not compensate for fallacious argument and false dilemmas.

        • ETS (Not Climate Change) Skeptik says:

          I guess that means your answer to my final question is “Mad”.

          • “The yearly reduction in carbon emissions “predicted” to result from the Australian ETS is overridden every three weeks by China”

            which shows precisely why this scheme is urgently required. Just a factor of about 50 involved when comparing populations – we are polluting far more per head than they are! Volume is irrelevant – if you base your argument on that, nobody would bother.

          • ETS (Not Climate Change) Skeptik says:

            Volume is not irrelevant. If an ETS is likely to be ineffective, then spending so much time, money and effort on creating one represents an enormous opportunity cost when we should be doing something that will actually make a difference.

            Note I am not suggesting we should not bother, more that we should be spending our money elsewhere.

          • Chris says:

            Hilarious if you’re not joking (about where the compromise has been struck, and ignoring not only that China moves with the speed of a one-party state, but that the future politicians here will tailor the trajectory of the quotas according to circumstances) .. Aren’t Phoney’s squeals and general fearmongering about the costs loud & seemingly successful enough already?
            Anyway, the success of the program will not be determined by the our abatement in itself, but by facilitating greater international action. For until longterm, high-per-capita, rich polluters like us are moving, how can other governments be expected to?

        • The Weather board Socialist says:

          I think you mean “Pulp Culture” Others may be impressed by your use of words you just learnt to spell used inordinately without context. I think your a little confused, what is a fallacy? Climate change? The price on carbon? Who is arguing?. Your line of reasoning is contradiction based upon nothing more than apathy and putting your own selfish greed above the environment. I reiterate just do nothing, I am certain your more than adept at explaining and doing nothing. ‎”When you cut into the present the future leaks out.”
          – William S. Burroughs

          • ETS (Not Climate Change) Skeptik says:

            Nope. I mean pop culture. Not even google knows what pulp culture is. Perhaps you should use it to look up “Straw Man” …

    • You said you wanted the scheme to involve “spending the proceeds from the sale of Carbon Credits to fund research into Alternative Energy systems.”

      That is exactly what *is* happening. Some of the revenue will go towards compensation, but a significant amount will go towards energy research and development.

        • ETS (Not Climate Change) Skeptik says:

          Even with the prediced 80% reduction by 2050 Australia will still be producing twice as much carbon as we are today. Even after all this kerfuffle we will still be doing twice as much damage to the environment as we are today. And that is even with the most optimistic predictions. In your experience, how accurate is any future economic forecast??

          If the situation is really as catastrophic as suggesting, and I completely agree that it is, muting the price signal is the worst thing we can do. We should be spending the compensation on finding and implementing technologies that will actually work.

          Did you actually read the article about how flawed the EU ETS is? It has done nothing. The most telling point is that the recent economic downturn reduced carbon emissions far more than any carbon abatement scheme. That suggests to me that the steaming economy is the problem, and slowing it down is the cure.

          • Not Skeptical Enough says:

            Do you have any references that support your statement “Even with the prediced 80% reduction by 2050 Australia will still be producing twice as much carbon as we are today.”

            As far as I’ve been able to see the long term target is to reduce Australias GHG emissions to 80% of the 2000 levels by 2050. How you can reduce it to below a certain level and still be above it is something I would like to see. Please provide a reference.

            Not Skeptical Enough

    • Not Skeptical Enough says:

      Dear Mr Skeptic,

      As far I can tell, after wading through copious amounts of verbiage, you have two arguments.

      1/ That $10/week is not enough.
      2/ Most of the rest of the world isn’t doing it.

      #1 – $10/week is the level of compensation being provided to everyone (except those RICH people). This is basically the government saying “We’re changing the rules, however we’re going to put most people back to the same point they were before we changed them. After the initial changes it’s up to market forces to decide how things are going to work out”.
      Aside from this can we assume that you find the rest of the Clean Energy Future system perfectly acceptable?

      #2 – As far as I’m aware, the Australian government cannot force other world governments to change their policies/laws etc. However, Australia is amongst the worlds leading economies and per head we produce more GHG emissions than the rest of them. While we cannot force the rest of the world to change their behaviour we can change our own.

      Pointing out flaws in the EU-ETS is all well and good, but the Clean Energy Future system is not the EU-ETS. It is similar in concept, but different in execution.

      3/4 of the rest of the world may be flipping their finger at us, but is that any excuse to not try and reduce our own impact on the world?

      It would be nice if someone with the balls to stand up and say “We’re going to change the way everything is done on this date. If you don’t like it tough.” actually existed. Unfortunately, in the real world, we have to deal with the status quo and try to change it. We cannot just rewrite everything all at once and have it all just magically work.

      While I agree that the Clean Energy Future system has flaws, I have yet to see anything proposed which will work better. Perhaps instead of saying how bad it is, and ranting on forums on the internet you could actually provide suggestions which have a chance of working in the real world.

      Not Skeptical Enough

  46. stacy says:

    “Lets not do anything because no one else is doing anything either”? That seems to be main argument put forth against environmental change. As a chorus of Mums all over the world have stated, “If the rest of the world were going to jump off a bridge…?”

    • ETS (Not Climate Change) Skeptik says:

      False dilemmas again. Paying an extra $10 per week might make you feel a little bit better about things but it won’t reduce you carbon footprint.

      • Ok, so its a realtive drop in the ocean, and even at that scale people are losing thier minds over the percieved cost. What would you suggest as the alternative and how would you sell that idea to the nation as a whole? If you recognize that global warming is an issue and that were not doing enough to stop it, then how can you find it acceptable to dismiss a strategy even if it only has limited benefits without providing a better and more acceptable alternative.

        • ETS (Not Climate Change) Skeptik says:

          If you read carefully my post you will see I have provided an alternative – the David Attenborough quote points out what seems to me to be the most obvious and relevant fact in this whole debate, yet it is a fact that seems to be ignored.

          • Not Skeptical Enough says:

            $10 a week doesn’t reduce your carbon foot print.
            It does however set the stage so the people out there who don’t care can begin to reduce their carbon foot print.

            If you could provide a suggestion as to how you can force everyones behaviour to change and have it stick after the next election I would be interested to hear it.

            Not Skeptical Enough

      • Elmer says:

        Valuing waste is important in bringing change through commerce. Done well (predictably, reliably) it enables companies to make plans and invest significant funds in eliminating the waste.

  47. Confused aspirational capitalist (Friend of the Battler) says:

    Business moving overseas, jobs lost, Learjets left unlubricated, Porches orphaned, holiday homes abandoned. Private school children BBQed on spits by socialists drunk on empathy and equality, empires crumble, aspirations smothered and dreams assassinated….Damm You Carbon Tax…I feel for the workers, the battlers, common folk, the man in the street, Joe and Jill Average, they don’t like it. It’s all over the papers, my backlit 52″ LCD, my iPad and my new digital radio. I met them once. They live under a Pole. A big important Poll. You know the one we all worship from which we derive all perception and belief. The wise poll of opinion in the cult of popularity. They are not happy and surely will not be able to afford the three years no interest to pay at Harvey Normans. How can they afford to pay me rent? Poor battlers, reduced to the outdoor consumption of chop chop tobacco imposed on them by anti-smoking fascists instead of the luxury of Winnie Blue tailors in nice bright packets. Where will they go?. The RSLs have all closed down, lifeless due to a pokie licence imposed by un-Australian communists….And what of us! How much will we have to pay Alan Jones to fight for our born privilege to extract the last resource from the ground and sell it to our business partners offshore with maximum tax deduction and minimum tax expenditure… Carbon Tax you are so dishonest, like those scientists and uni people. Nobody else is doing it so why should I and besides, my economic advisors have not figured out how I can make any money from it… Capitalism is dead, and I am sure I just heard a piece of the sky fall along with 1% off my bottom line….Carbon Tax you are Such a Liar…

    • Chris says:

      Wow 😀 If only those weren’t crocodile tears, we might’ve put in a waterwheel/micro-hydro plant 😉 Perhaps we can for others, though hoping that reality will dawn in due course.
      Worthy addition anyway

  48. Mon says:

    OMFG. your reference to the cat empire was EXACTLY what happened to me when I came back from a very long o/s trip!!! hahahahaha

    Great follow up article! Thanks.

  49. Rory Hart says:

    This argument doesn’t work because cost isn’t the only factor for a company to be in Australia. The reasons for companies having faculties, offices etc here won’t change as we already have high overheads compared to South East Asia and India. If they can save money and move they will, such as Pacific Brands makers of Bonds did recently. Cost reduction simply isn’t a reason companies choose or stay in Australia.

    So why are companies here and will the tax affect these reasons?

    Well Australia’s big economic driver, mining, certainly isn’t going anywhere as the resources are here. The demand remains high and the infrastructure investment here is so intense they won’t just up and move operations to Canada tomorrow, which has it own laws on books anyway. Any cost rises they might see can be easily absorbed and will barely rate a mention on their accounts. The same reasoning applies to farmers, though I expect they will also get financial support as their margins are significantly smaller.

    Obviously there is a massive proportion of the economy that has to be here as it services Australia and cannot be moved such as power stations, your local milk bar and Joe the plumber from next door. They won’t be going anywhere as they need to be here to service us!

    Any other sectors I missed that might be effected by this tax and move offshore?

    • Elmer says:

      Rory, you have an excellent superficial grasp of economics and a poor grasp of using “effect” and “affect”. Keep swinging, you’ll hit one someday.

  50. Up Wing says:

    Some good shit you are writing here Lemon – has a whiff of Hunter S. Thompson about it. I’ll be back.

  51. jeff fowler says:

    RSS Subscribed, well done. You had me at the cat empire reference. Well, also creative uses of the word shitcunt.

  52. Honestly says:

    “There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead”
    Pretty sure she’s the leader of this abomination of a government. No matter how much you try to re-write history to suit your views.

    • geoff lemon says:

      And my point in the article above pre-emptively rebuts this one made by you. Read it again, save me the hassle.

      • MB says:

        Thanks Geoff, glad you are able to extrapolate that when JG said a “Govt I lead”, she really meant “a 100% Labor Govt I lead”. Your mind reading skills are excellent.

    • AdamForPeace says:

      Sorry but the two party convention you hold up as “right” is the true Abomination of democracy. It insures that law is passed with the support of as little as 20% of the population.

    • Geoff Andrews says:

      OK, “honestly”. let’s play semantics. She doesn’t “lead the government” – she leads the majority party in a coalition. She didn’t say anything about a “core promise” (or is that defence so rancid after the Liberals used it once, it doesn’t work anymore?). Anyhow, isn’t Bob Brown the Prime Minister?
      I know how distressed you must be: you changed your vote to Labor at the last minute because you believed her promise not to introduce a tax was, understandably, more reliable than Phoney’s. And now she’s let you down.
      What? What’s that? You didn’t vote Labor? So you’re crying crocodile tears and having a tantrum on the floor on behalf of all those who DID vote Labor (and have a right to protest at her broken promise) but they’ve been silenced by marauding gangs of Greens. So, dry the eyes, tuck the tissue in the shirt sleeve and harden up. She’s not the first politician to break a promise. After all, in 2005, Mr Abbott said: “When I made that statement in the election campaign I had not the slightest inkling that there would ever be any intention to change this, but obviously when circumstances change, governments do change their opinions.”
      Don’t you dare talk about re-writing history!

  53. ETS (Not Climate Change) Skeptik says:

    Some more info that suggests that you are being somewhat disingenuous when stating that everyone is whinging about a pittance of $10/week. That $10 is number arrived at for the political purpose of getting the legislation through and bears no resemblence to what the price will be when full auctioning comes into play. It is also interesting to note that we (meaning us humans, not just Ozzies) have already used 1/3 of our “carbon budget” in the first decade of the 2000-2050 time frame, meaning that we will have to either cut harder and faster, or come the final couple of decades carbon permits are going to get a hell of a lot more expensive:

    Also, according to the ABC anyway, ( approximately half of our pollution reduction is expected to come from abatements purchased from overseas. Now this may be cheap if the AUD stays where it is, but might be a lot more expensive down the track. And I find it a little bit naff that we are relying on the rest of the world to do our work for us.

    Anyway, the Echos in this Chamber are starting to deafen me so I will fold with this final question (caps for empharsis): [Oh no you don’t – Ed.]

    Are you actually doing anything to abate your personal carbon production or are you just going to live your normal life safe in the knowledge that you will have paid your weekly pittance and someone else will sort it out for you?

    • Scenic route to hell says:

      And your point is…?

    • Chris says:

      I think you’ve answered your own question; I mean, esp as the ETS quota shrinks in future decades, who would/could ignore the price signals favouring a low-carbon lifestyle? (Those that choose to, pay.) And as it’s a planet-wide problem, doesn’t it make sense for us westerners to put in the difference so the powerstation needed now by a developing country is a low-carbon (not a cheaper carbon-intensive) one? Or enable the world’s rainforests etc to regrow. Esp as enables development of better baseload technologies while our native black coal plants serve out their lives amongst the various shifts in transportation, to renewables, etc once economics better accounts for the ecological risks in which we live.

      • Geoff Andrews says:

        Chris, you seem to have lost the thread of the game. ETS Skeptic, along with the phoney rabbit, have a Cassandra-like clairvoyance. Even before the details of the “tax” were announced, they saw towns being wiped out, mines closing,and moving the whole bloody great hole over to China, petrol surging 6 cents, power companies just turning the light and the furnaces off, packing their bags leaving these once proud tributes to nineteenth century ingenuity whistling desolately, eerily in a mourning wind, will I have to pay tax on candles? Meanwhile, skyrocketing cost-of- living, battlers on $110 k plus, struggle town, no more semitrailers on the Hume Highway (sob), (are you still there, Skyring?), “biggest change to our economic system in a generation” (ignoring the GST, of course… no one in business pays GST, do they? So of course they’re terrified)
        Load up, take a bead on those lying, self serving scientists, and economists; really get ’em in ya crosshairs, ya tree-hugging, chattering, chardonnay socialist …. The whistles, the whistles I can’t think with all this dog whistling ……no, wait, wait is it TURNBULL I can hear? … yes, yes it IS Turnbull,
        “Hi, I’m Malcolm … from NSW, And I’m here to help bring some bipartisan sanity and logic into this puerile destabiiising, fatuous, fallacious rant by my good friend and colleague …..”
        Come back, Kev. ….

        • Skyring says:

          Malcolm Turnbull had a good run and hardly dented the sides of Kevin Rudd’s grin. Tony Abbott did for him, with the aid of those poll numbers which Julia Gillard is pretending like hell not to notice.

          Never let it be said that I’m in favour of semitrailers. They are big, ugly, and inefficient, especially where we have a train line running right beside.

          Nor that I’m a big fan of Abbott. Frankly, I prefer Gillard’s attitudes on a range of things. And while I don’t agree with Gillard’s public views on climate change, at least they are consistent.

          But Abbott is in touch with the average Australian in a way that Gillard, Turnbull and Rudd are not. Of course people are worried about a honking great new tax. And they are right beside Abbott in poking at the scant details and wondering if the reality will match the rhetoric or is Gillard (heaven forfend!) painting a rosier picture than she really should. If she were being honest.

          • Chris says:

            Nice projecting of deception, merchant of doubt. Of course infighting and demotivation is just what the world needs (as far as powerful cliques of vested interests are concerned).
            in touch Since, as noted, all can understand the concerns about these issues, Skyring seems to be applauding the Mad Monk for hugging & mugging people with slimey cold bogeyman hands into their spines, and his harangues sp(r)ooking about things being different in 10 and 40 years as though this is surprising, and bad. (Any netizens wanting to be trapped in the 1970s?) Pursuing power & patronage by turning Aussies into scared adolescents rebelling in denial against a reasoned plan (instead of joining to meet the challenges of this world with some Digger spirit) only prompts me to give this parasite the finger and drop my previous respect to simply that of a dangerous enemy of society, like malaria. If you want/are being paid to do a brownshirt salute at the actions of this grubby Sith, wonder whether you’ll be crawling back with apologies to your kin for any trauma/war.
            scant detail sure, of course the government somehow can and should guessitimate everything and be completely open for the speculators, because we can pretend to know all other events about the future & how it was going to be, and lawyers will be out of business without us being given written expectations from which sue if things do/don’t work out with reference to our hopes.
            Given time&resources, I’d haunt our ex-seminarian drop-out’s PRformances with a “Thou shalt not bear false witness” sign. Like Stalin before him, seems his goals shifted after studying ‘Propaganda for Delusions 101’ and ‘Emotional Hot-buttons: Creating and Tapping Fear’.

          • Skyring says:

            Perceive it however you want, but Tony Abbott is doing a better job of selling his message (such as it is) from opposition than Julia Gillard is doing with all the resources of government behind her. That’s extraordinary, and I put it down to Abbott being more in tune with the concerns and hopes of ordinary Australians than Gillard. As we have seen during the past year whenever they got out and about. Gillard looked awkward and wooden, aloof from the crowd that Abbott enjoyed. The body language says it all.

            But I appreciate your emotional outpouring, Chris. You are probably feeling Gillard’s pain and frustration more than she is, judging by the terminology you use and the intriguing images you project.

            It’s certainly going to be a jam-packed spring when Parliament returns. There’s most of this year’s sitting days ahead, the climate tax bills to be debated, Kevin Rudd away growing a new heart, and Wilkie wondering what’s happened to his precious pokies.

          • kd says:

            “Perceive it however you want, but Tony Abbott is doing a better job of selling his message (such as it is) from opposition than Julia Gillard is doing with all the resources of government behind her”

            I find this statement naive again. Abbot is not held by things like facts and consistency, so selling his message is easy for an unengaged, self-entitled lazy electorate. Fascist, manupulative lies is almost not too strong a phrase to describe what he’s doing.

            Abbot is being unacceptably unethical about selling his argument (totally inconsistent, complete disregard for the facts and an unethical whipping up of hysteria). I blame Rudd for some but not all of that by playing politics too much through the first iteration of the ETS. Mostly it just makes me and my friends in the “we must return to stone age living conditions” (that’s sarcasm by the way) green movement hold abbot in contempt.

          • kd says:

            Hey, Chris. It’s spelled “DELUSIONAL FUCKWITS”. I wouldn’t want you to think my position was uninformed, or kneejerk or anything like that.

        • Skyring says:

          Leaving aside the emotional rant and looking at the facts, the reality is that the Australian public disagrees with your analysis in huge numbers. Millions of people would chuckle over your indignation.

          If an election were held now, Julia Gillard would be booted out in one of Australian history’s greatest landslides, and Tony Abbott would claim a huge mandate.

          That’s the way government works – they add up the numbers, not the emotions.

          I say Tony Abbott is doing a better job of selling his message to the voters because that’s the truth.

          I’m not saying that he’s got a better message, mind you.

          • Chris says:

            Agreed that the antagonistic messages have stronger public momentum and so resonance currently (which will likewise continue to influence what people hear), and the uncloistered Sith has been and is trying his ‘best’/darndest.
            You are missing/ignoring kd’s points that Phoney has a much easier job to sell his “message”. This’s an asymmetric war; a guerilla-like resistance campaign. Plus he’s just an element in the militia of interests & media resources feeding on anxiety and fanning negative reactions, so it’s silly to give him credit that belongs to you & your ilk.
            To call it “extraordinary” is likewise silly. As is saying fear-filtering feedback amplifying our natural anxiety reactions by the Rahrahrabbit means he’s “more in tune” with ordinary Australians. While not special in this way, Aussies tend to be naturally anti-authoritarian and healthily cynical, and these too are being played on.
            I reckon there’s no need to explain to you about the professionalizing of applied psychology in politics combined with the much increased science of how we are predictably irrational. They could probably still go with Machiavelli that “It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things.”
            Leaving aside the emotional rant and looking at the facts..
            As an apparent response to kd’s measured yet damning assessment (which is factual and couldn’t even be described as “calling a spade a bloody shovel”), that’s an amusing attempted downplay/double-standard and seeming incomprehension about the role of emotions in the debate and numbers.
            I would fully endorse what kd has said, although if I wasn’t venting to myself, I hope I would substitute “myopics” for “FUCKWITS” (since that better reflects the differences, while if encountering those views that I’d instead listen and question well as to what they think should be done).
            Enough from me too, but lastly: whenever you can drag from eyes off the Circus Minimus, please observe the horn of Africa for a sense of the real potential lives, death, & cost impacts as to why we need to make this small/slow commitment to get the world on the front foot.
            Clearly, we personally can do better than just cross our fingers in this meme-contest. If nothing else, please do help people to be conscious.

  54. Thanks Geoff, for all your recent articles – big fan of the frankness, humour and downright honesty. I’ve been living in the UK for the past year and I’ve been incredulous at the rhetoric I saw during the election and again when the tax was announced. I’m glad so many people share the feeling and are willing to speak out about it!

  55. Vickie T says:

    Geoff – your writing on this topic is pure gold! I had lost hope that there were any people left in this country who could cut through the bullshit and present the situation as it is, without the bleating of entitled, Telegraph-reading, willfully ignorant selfish bastards who truly believe that they deserve for life to be easy and delivered to them on a silver platter with a serving of ‘go fuck yourself if you’re even slightly to the left of Gengis Khan’.
    You’re awesome and I’m a fan!

  56. Jeremy says:

    Fuck you are try hard, cocky bastard.

  57. Ludwig says:

    You said: “Wow, a hung parliament, this shit is like crazy man, this has never happened before in Australian electoral history?” That’s because it had never happened before in Australian electoral history. Well, just a small correction: At the 1940 federal election, incumbent Prime Minister Robert Menzies secured the support of two independent crossbenchers and continued to govern, but during the parliamentary term the independents switched their support to Labor, bringing John Curtin to power.

  58. Scenic route to hell says:

    Have been searching for the Aussie equivalent to Bill Maher and I think I may have found one!
    Finally some sharp, humours, articulate and non-pompous commentary from the centre-left in a suffocatingly Foxnewsified Australian media landscape. You’re oxygen!
    Now lets get you a talk show…

  59. dave says:

    good rant mate,on both articles.i t makes it all much clearer the way you have written the banter between for and against,with for kicking against into history.

  60. Chris Daley says:


  61. Dan says:

    I’m… I’m made of seal fat and Styrofoam? ;o;

  62. mikk says:

    Another great rant. Keep up the good work.

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  64. Greg_D says:

    Agree with most of your points. A politician “lied”, mandate… blah, blah *yawn*. This IS politics right? Yeah, well who cares? Get on with it. You could add in the “we hardly pollute anything so we should sit around burning coal and oil ’til the cows come home” that there are heaps of compelling reasons to move away from coal and oil that have nothing to do with “global warming”. Like it or lump it, the stuff that comes out of coal power plants and car exhausts IS pollution. How about national security? Is is smart to base your economy and primary mode of transport (car) future on a product from a politically unstable geographical region? Not so much. How about the economic, r&d, export and employment opportunities we are sacrificing by not transitioning away from coal and oil? We will put to one side the small facts that this scheme pumps more money into coal and doesn’t address car usage at all. Oh, and as an added bonus, public transport costs go up, discouraging people for using it.

    Now, a flaw with one of your arguments “Or, decide instead to bring the cost down and undercut a competitor. Businesses are very good at finding every possible saving in their processes. This gives them an incentive to do it.” My understanding is that in Perth, Synergy is the only company to generate electricity. What incentive does Synergy have to transition to less polluting technologies? Any cost increase in simply passed on with no incentive to change because with no competition there is no competitive advantage in doing so. The carbon scheme will not address this.

    So at the end of the day we still burn oil (for cars) and public transport costs increase, we have more coal and at least some power plants have no incentive to transition to lower polluting technologies. What was so good about this scheme again?

    • Geoff Andrews says:

      It’s a start, Greg -a start countering two problems that we will inevitably have to face: a continuous increase in co2 (which has increased about 50% in my lifetime), and which we strongly suspect is responsible for detrimental weather patterns and increasing world temperatures; and the certainty that we will run out of oil then coal – the former within the lifetime of anyone younger than voting age.
      World population has trebled in my lifetime and will double again in the next 40 – 45 years. Without action, emission of co2 with rise at least proportionally. If we assume that we have used half the total oil reserves available in the last 150 years, the remaining half will go by 2050. . A price on carbon is not the only solution available – it just happens to be the first. There’s no reason why every domestic house, for example, can’t be self sufficient in electricity including electricity for the family car.If you scale the Earth down to a ball one metre in diameter, a limitless supply of energy is available 2 mm below the surface, even closer if we pick the right spot.
      We have to show that we are just as innovative, co-operative and clever as previous generations. And for gods’ (sic) sake, Tony & Julia, stop this facile, childish, undergraduate point scoring. It’s boring, counter productive, detrimental to every child and does neither you or your parties any credit. I can only hope that you both live long enough to be able to say “I did enough, I was right and I have no regrets ” on your deathbeds, You certainly won’t be able to whinge “why didn’t someone warn me”.

  65. krisrobbo says:

    Love your work. I’ve never heard of you until a friend pointed me to here. You have another reader now. You bring clarity to this issue and cut through the crap that no other journalist would dare to write. I would love to see you on TV and in other mainstream media outlets. And please write a piece on ‘Lord’ Monckton.

  66. Elmer says:

    Maybe at some point cover the broader tax platform; that a carbon tax is just one in a family of eco-taxes? The idea being to tax pollution (waste) and not (or less) profit. I.e. tax failure not success.

    Wikipedia covers this quite well, but I don’t imagine a lot of people find their way to that page.

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  68. Jim says:

    A few counter-rebuttals…

    1) You hit the nail on the head here in one way. That is that for your argument to work you have to misquote what Julia Gillard said before the election. The commitment was “There will be no carbon tax under a government that I lead.”

    She leads the government, there is a carbon tax.

    It is also not true she couldn’t have anticipated minority government. 2PP polls for the entire two weeks prior to election day were showing the two major parties neck-and-neck. Once you throw in a few independents a probably Greens victory in Melbourne (all of which were anticipated by the polls) you get a very predictable result. It is entirely understandable for the public to have been surprised at the result. To suggest that Gillard, the leader of a party with one of the most well-organized campaign machines in the developed world, couldn’t have anticipated the result (or at least the possibility) betrays a deep misunderstanding of political campaigns.

    2) The people did not ‘elect’ a hung parliament. They elected representatives on the basis of a promised platform. While representatives cannot cover every possible policy topic in an election campaign the possibility for a carbon tax was covered every couple of days. Gillard committed to not introducing a carbon tax and that was part of the platform upon which Labor MPs and Senators were elected. Claims there might be a carbon tax under Labor were denied by their leader and labelled as “hysterical” by their Treasurer and Deputy Leader.

    The mandate of the Labor Parliamentary Party still stands and it is to introduce no carbon tax. If they want to change their minds that’s absolutely fine, but they can only legitimately do so after getting a renewed mandate.

    3) You are misrepresenting the figures of the results. The Greens got 12% nationally. The LNP is a division of the Liberal Party and only exists in Queensland. The Greens’ share of the vote was miniscule compared to the Liberal Party nationally (which is what you should compare it to) and the Liberal-National Coalition nationally.

    The Greens are wielding disproportionate influence on the national government. I don’t blame them for using that power, even if i disagree with their agenda. The problem is that Labor has sold out to the Greens (and have effectively admitted as much by labeling them as “extremist” and then claiming that they are the reason the policy was changed). Labor needs a new mandate before they can legitimately introduce this tax. Until then it is undemocratic.

  69. I have to say, the J-pod reference makes me like you more… an obscure show, with an obscure following of which I am one. It may be illogical, but it works for me.

  70. John Jacobs says:

    ‘Mining super profits tax’ renamed the ‘carbon tax’ renamed the ‘price on carbon’ renamed the ‘pollution tax’. Either way it’s a wallet emptying tax most folks didn’t want passed down to the end consumer which will have no effect on what it claims to affect. Income tax was originally created to fund the war with France. How’s that going?

    I would prefer it if the Gov’t just sent me an itemised invoice on June 30 instead of all this bullshit.

  71. Kim says:

    The only sensible policy for climate change is to rove the restrictions on civilian nuclear power.

    France generates 85% of its electricity from nuclear power. As a result, it has the lowest carbon emissions of any developed country and its electricity prices are two-thirds the level of Australia’s. And it has never had a fatal accident in its nuclear power industry. Neither, by the way has Britain or Germany, two the heavy nuclear power users. The Australian coal industry by contrast has had numerous fatal accidents totaling around 200 deaths.

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